India v South Africa, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo October 1, 2012

So far, so good for India's part-timers

MS Dhoni, whose reliance on part-timers has proved successful so far in the World Twenty20, will hope his attack can deliver against South Africa

MS Dhoni is possibly the only captain in international cricket who misses a spinning allrounder so much that when he returns, with barely any match practice after recovering from cancer, he becomes a certainty in the XI for a world event. You can see why a reliable and experienced allrounder such as Yuvraj Singh is so critical to MS Dhoni's plans. Depending on how much faith you have in India's specialist bowlers, you can either love Dhoni or hate him for being happy with just four of them in his XI.

Dhoni's press conferences have been revealing ever since India arrived in Colombo for the World Twenty20. He began by saying how important a role the part-timers had to play, then said India would begin the tournament with four specialist bowlers, and if the need arose, only then would they pick an extra bowler in the XI. In between, he also talked about his "ideal" attack - three fast bowlers, one spinner and "a few part-timers".

That is the way Dhoni has operated in the past. That is the way he won a World Cup. His method is probably a result of a mix of how many times his specialist bowlers have let him down and the value he assigns to the extra batsman at No. 7. In the end, it is Dhoni's side, and it is down to how comfortable he feels when he leads an XI out onto the field. Perhaps the magnitude of the win against England lured Dhoni out of his comfort zone to continue with five bowlers against Australia. But against Pakistan, he was back to picking four specialist bowlers and bringing on Yuvraj immediately after the Powerplay.

It is interesting to watch Dhoni use his part-timers. Yuvraj struck immediately against Pakistan. Dhoni used the opening to bring on another part-timer, Virat Kohli, from the other end. Yuvraj removed another Pakistan batsman in his second over. Dhoni gave another over to Kohli. Yuvraj and Kohli ended up bowling six successive overs, two more than the quota of the fifth bowler.

A part-timer is perhaps a necessary evil when a captain wants seven batsmen. But if one of them bowls a couple of tight overs or picks up wickets, any captain can fall to the temptation of using him for longer. It is a risk. What if he gets clobbered next over?

"It is a difficult one frankly, because at times I have seen [that if] you try to go for that one extra over and it goes for 20-25 runs, the whole analysis goes bad," Dhoni said. "So, at times if you are comfortable with what is on the board, rather than gambling too much, what we decide is, if the specialist bowlers bowl, this is the amount of runs that they [the opposition] may score. If the part-timers have done their job there is no point in pushing them because errors can happen at any time. So I should be happy once they have bowled four good overs."

India's much-criticised attack has now bowled out sides three times in four games in the tournament. Dhoni spoke of the limitations his bowlers had, but was satisfied with their showing. "We have not got bowlers who can bowl at 145 kph. We have got bowlers who bowl slightly slower but at the same time they have got the skill to get the batsmen out," he said. "Our problem starts if there is nothing from the wicket, which means, if it is not on the slower side or if there is no reverse swing or no spin then it becomes bit of a concern. If you see the performance [against Pakistan], it was a really good one because the part-timers contributed, the spinners bowled well [as did] the fast bowlers."

South Africa's batsmen have struggled in both their Super Eight games, and Dhoni will be hoping his limited attack, part-timers and all, can contain them in order for India to make the semi-finals.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Yousaf on October 2, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    Its funny people calling Zaheer world class. The only bowlers india have are Irfan Pathan and Ashwin. The rest 12 over it paradise for the opponent. In the batting department there is great. Cant win tournament on bowling alone.

  • Nasar on October 2, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    By being defeated at the hand of Pakistan with a huge margin, Australia achieves three things in a single shot i.e. 1) they are thru to the semi 2) SA is out of the tournament and 3) almost ensuring that India is also out of the tournament.

  • Naresh on October 2, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    @agila - the only reason we say these things like this is becoz our bowlers dont inspire any confidence in all forms of the game. Right now if go to our stats page you will see what we mean. If India scores 140 in t20 our bowlers more than likely will not be able to defend or even put a fight. just today a SL official commented that India does not have variety in bowling.

  • Dummy4 on October 2, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    Indian team doesnt need bowlers who can bowl 145+... A lot of teams who got such bowlers are on the airport right now waiting to fly back home. Zaheer khan is the best left arm seamer in the world right now... Irfan has got wickets everytime with the new ball, and thats what he is supposed to do... Ashwin is world class, much better than the overhyped ajanta mendis and balaji is a wily bowler who bowls intelligently. So its not about bowling fast, its about bowling smart. And we dont over rely on kohli... Just that he is better than any other batsman in the world so he always performs and people think none of the other batsman are performing... truth is that he doesnt leave a lot for them to do... simple as that!!!!!

  • fakruddin on October 2, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    Respect for Mr Yuvraj Singh.... It takes mental/physical and more importantly psychological strength and courage to come back so quickly after Cancer and Chemotheraphy to high level cricket. Kudos to the selectors and MS Dhoni to support him. And clearly so they have done it in the T20 format....

    Having said that this man was in the One day world cup suffering with cancer but still did an exceptional JOB...

    And if he "feels" he can DO IT HE IS UPTO IT. The likes of Manjarekar and company with their "fitness" should just SHUT UP. Period

  • Dummy4 on October 2, 2012, 7:39 GMT

    I think bala ji is the best bowler for india.In sri lanka where pitches are slow as tournament is progressive,bala ji is the trump card for india.Wish u all the best for today game.Only one possible change for today match nohit sharma replaced to bhajji.

  • varakooti on October 2, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    why in the world Mr.Captain cool comes so early in the innings to bat by promoting himself up in the order when the run rate is so good. He comes in the 11th or 12th over after fall of 3 wickets and reduces the run rate so badly that at the end of innings India will definitely short by 20 more runs. Instead Raina should come as early as possible as he dont take much time to settle and he plays his natural attacking game after 2 overs, unlike Dhoni who plays shots only in the last 2 overs of the Innings. If he gets out after defending so many balls to dot, he blames the pitch. But if he gets what is required the whole India praises his cool captaincy.... This is bad attitude. If Dhoni wants only to play big shots in the last 2 overs of the innings then why he comes to bat so early even before Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit. And while chasing also he puts unnecessary pressure on the other batsmen by not even rotating the strike regularly even the asking rate above 9-10.

  • Senthil on October 2, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    Bowlers bowling 145+ is a huge disadvantage as soon as it crosses the batsman! The ramp shot flies over the slips, or gets flicked over square for six, a slice through gully is a definite four even if there is a square third man and a hit over the bowler flies for six, mishits carry way too far, especially if there is bounce and the batsman is swinging. These are not the pitches where you can surprise batsmen with pace alone. In fact, Dhoni is right in reading this situation and preparing accordingly. Please give credit to a captain who knows a thing or two about winning and doing so with apparently limited bowling resources.

  • varakooti on October 2, 2012, 5:39 GMT

    As Rohit didn't proove his ability with bat so far in the series it's time to rest him. And as the safaries dont play spin well, bring harbajan in place of Rohit. Regarding the bowlers who bowls at 145+, there are many available in the domestic cricket. For example Sandeep sharma is a very good bowler who bowled fantastically in the U-19 WC that won by the young indian team this year. His swingi bowling at 145kmph is very dangerous as we have seen in the WC. He will be next representing India. All the best Sandeep sharma.

  • sandeep on October 2, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    @cricketsunami&rohitramesh Ya perhaps you r right but what about Parvinder Awana?.

  • No featured comments at the moment.